I just got a note that my blog was black as night and had only its past entries. Please let me know if this continues.
Anyhoo, what have I been up to? I celebrated an awesome New Years in village. Marthilde and Bienvenu made a vegan salad (they don't eat eggs, so she made a vegan mayonnaise using vinegar, oil, salt n'pepa, and mashed taters...delish) and fufu. I made a spice cake and bread. God bless my Dutch Oven.
In January, I went on a grand tour of the West African coast with 2 other volunteers, Natasha ("Nacho") and Ashley ("Block"). We started off in Accra, Ghana and then headed off to Cape Coast to see the slave castle (the dungeons where slaves were kept before they were shipped off). I didn't feel so great about humanity after that, so we decided to relax at the "resort" (nice but food and drinks and service lame) and shake off the day. It was also Nacho's birthday. Block stepped on a snail and created an avalanche from the sound of the crunch of the shell. The next day we went to Kakum National Park and walked the canopy walk (350 meters long 30 meters above the ground of the forest floor). It was kind of scary, but really gorgeous (see pic of me with sweat-soaked long sleeve shirt posing with a skinny tree). Et puis, we went to Abidjan. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the trip, which made my day. I knew it would be a doozer of a trip, especially at the border, so the sandwich gave me "la force" (a term many Togolese use, which I think means strength, power and maybe sometimes sexual prowess). I was silent for about 12 hours after we crossed the border because it was so stressful. I think we had about 10 dudes on us who wanted to "help" us cross into Cote d'Ivoire, speaking in both French and English. And we had no idea where we were staying, but we figured it out, made some mistakes, but all in all, I just love traveling because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and makes for some pretty awesome stories. Sorry for the run-on sentence. I am used to writing texts or journal entries where I don't concern myself with grammar. Abidjan was like baby Manhattan and we ate attieke (couscous made from cassava) and aloko (fried plaintains) and drank Ivorian beer from Denmark. We, then, stayed at Green Turtle Lodge in Dixcove, Ghana. Beautiful and all environmentally friendly (solar panel powered and composting latrnies). See beach pictures. I lost the top and bottom of my bathing suit several times from the harsh waves of the Atlantic. My bathing suit has a chunk of sand in it still and I found a grain of sand in my ear last week. And now I'm just continuing my work in village and realizing that this journey here is almost over. I think my village respects me more now because they know I'm a bad ass for sticking it out for 2 years. So, I'm at a point in my service where I am absorbing as much as I can because I know it's coming to an end. I feel more at ease. There are 6 Belgian volunteers in my village now working at the primary school and pre-school. I am planning on collaborating with them on some small projects in village because 2 of them will be there until May.
This past week, I made enriched cereal to teach the women at the dispensary about proper nutrition for their babies and themselves. It's made from black-eyed peas, peanuts and corn. I roasted the beans and peanuts (peanuts are alway sold unroasted in the market by really sweet market women, I'm actually going to miss Togo a lot) myself and then took all the ingredients to my friendly village miller. Some kids then helped me cart it all home so I could put it into little bags for the ladies. Pictures below.